ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev said on Wednesday dozens of the Central Asian nation’s citizens, including 30 children, had been evacuated from Syria, where they were “held hostage by terrorists.”
“They were deceived into going to this country in crisis, where they were held hostage by terrorists,” Nazarbayev said.
“Upon arrival in Kazakhstan, women and children were given all possible assistance from the state,” he added.
“Our main task is to ensure security, protect the integrity and unity of the country. We will continue to work to return children who are in the combat zone against their will,” Nazarbayev said.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement over the weekend that five Islamic State militants, 11 women, and 30 children were handed over to Kazakh authorities by the Kurdish-led authority in northern Syria.
“A few months ago, at a meeting between the democratic forces of Syria, the counter-terrorism forces of Kazakhstan and members of self-government in north-eastern Syria, an agreement was reached on citizens of Kazakhstan who had joined IS and (were) detained by the Syrian Democratic Forces,” the statement said.
The SDF is thought to be holding some 3,200 foreign and local ISIS fighters in Syria.